OLYMPIA, WA – (OlyTownFC.com) Just two games into the season, are we already talking about playoffs? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there is still a very long way to go. But when the Oly Town Artesians travel to Soccer First Indoor Sports in Arlington on Saturday night to take on the Aviators in a Western Indoor Soccer League contest, the Artesians can take a big step forward in the push for one of four playoff spots in the five team WISL.
The Artesians picked up their first win in franchise history last Saturday with a 10-8 win over the Wenatchee Fire at Olympia Indoor Soccer and currently sit in fourth place in the WISL table, one point behind the Fire and Bellingham United. Meanwhile, the Aviators sit in fifth place, three points behind Oly. A win on Saturday would give the Artesians a two win cushion over Arlington in the eight game WISL season.
But Oly Town has yet to hit the road this season and play four of their next five games away from home. After three straight games (two league games and one friendly) at the cozy confines of Olympia Indoor, the question remains how the extremely young Artesians will respond to travel, much larger fields and hostile crowds.
Matt Stalnik and Greg Wolfe lead the Artesians with three goals each in league play and Nate Salveson and Wille Spurr both have a pair of goals. Wolfe is the only Oly player to score goals in both WISL games but Stalnik has amassed eight goals over all competitions.
The Aviators have scored just six goals on the season thus far after a 4-2 loss to Wenatchee on November 15th and an 8-4 loss to Bellingham last week. Fabian Panduro and Zach Crutchfield each scored twice in the loss to Bellingham and lead the Aviators in goals scored. Two of the three WISL Players of the Week have come from opponents of the Aviators. Wenatchee’s Danny Romero allowed just two goals to the Aviators to win the PotW in week one and Andrew Weisharr scored four goals for Bellingham on Saturday to win in week three.
The two teams have met once already this season, a preseason 24 minute running clock game at the Northwest Indoor Soccer Invitational. In the first game in Oly Town FC history, Mike Rancipher scored early for the Artesians before the Aviators got on the board late to earn the 1-1 draw.
Saturday’s game in Arlington will be webcast live at http://www.olytownfc.com and http://www.olysports.com. Artesians General Manager Brandon Sparks will be on the call. Sparks is also the founder of OlySports.com, football play-by-play man for Newsradio KMAS and the voice of Saint Martin’s basketball webcasts. Fans can follow the action on the webcast or by following @OlyTownFC on Twitter. First kick is scheduled for 7:30 PM.
The Artesians will host Bellingham United in their next home game on Saturday, January 3rd. Advance tickets are available now at http://www.olytownfc.com or by calling (360) 561-7252.
TACOMA, WA – (TacomaStars.com) The Tacoma Stars will take a 2-0-0 record (4-0-0 overall) over the mountains with them to Wenatchee on Saturday night for a match against the Wenatchee Fire. Coming back over those same mountains undefeated will not be easy.
The Wenatchee Fire are currently 1-1-1 in the Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL)with 4 standings points. The Fire won their opener away at Arlington 4-2, but have been sliding just a bit with a draw at home against Bellingham (6-6) and most recently a 10-8 loss at Oly Town last week. Scoring goals is not an issue for Wenatchee, but they’ve got to tighten up a defense that is going the wrong direction in goals allowed.
The Wenatchee Valley Sportsplex is a familiar venue for a few of the Stars players. It’s where the Fire make their stand in league play, and year after year is a tough place for visitors.
The Stars and the Fire have been playing each other on and off for a decade, with both clubs jumping in this year to help found the WISL. Previously the Stars and Fire matched up when Wenatchee had a reserves team in the PASL. The heyday era for the Fire included a 2007-8 season when they topped the Stars 13-9 in Tacoma and 19-9 in Wenatchee. The next season (2008-9) Tacoma rebounded to win the PASL Northwest and swept the Fire, including a 6-2 win at the Sportsplex. Even in seasons where the Fire might not set the league ablaze they still present troubles for the Stars in Wenatchee. The Stars only lost once in league play in 2009-10, and it was a 6-5 setback to Wenatchee at the Sportsplex.
The last time the two sides met in league play using the same names was when the PASL Pro tried to expand back in 2010-11. In that season the Stars jumped up to the “pro” level of that league while the Wenatchee Fire were in what was called the “Pro Frontier Division,” made up of clubs hoping to be fully pro later on. In that season the clubs played twice with Tacoma winning both, 10-2 at the Tacoma Soccer Center and 11-10 at the Wenatchee Valley Sportsplex (in overtime.)
There are very few holdover names from those days currently on either club’s rosters, but there is an awareness between the two sides that this is annually a match-up for Washington indoor soccer bragging rights. This time around it is also a battle for first place. The Stars have 6 points and the Fire have 4. The winner gets 3 more to add to their season total.